William Richard Forsythe was 13. His parents called him Sunny which he hated. The family was making their first cruise. His Dad drank a lot. His Mother played Bingo and the Pokies. Sunny was told to make friends and enjoy himself as they were.
Susan Penelope Wallace was 12 going on thirteen; in fact her birthday was to be on board. Her parents called her Honey Bun which she hated. The family were taking their fourth cruise. Her parents played bridge all day long. Susan had become a seasoned seafarer and this was evident with her charge card ID swinging around her neck and her expertise in navigation of the whole ship. She was especially skilled in avoiding the places that her parents were, such as playing bridge, sipping coffee in the patisserie or drinking cocktails in the forward bar.
It wasn’t long before Sonny had worked his strategy out too. So he avoided the bars and his Dad and the Bingo lounges and his Mum. It was starting to be a great trip.
At first both families had decided that they should dine together but soon both Sunny and Honey broke free and insisted that they dine with friends (which neither had) at the Buffet on the Lido deck.
The Buffet was full one day at lunch and Honey had to ask to join a table already occupied by a boy, Sunny.
“Is this seat taken?”
After what seemed an awkward silence, Sunny said “I’m Bill” and Honey in her turn said “I’m Sue” Thereafter the conversation developed and each confessed their nicknames and their frustration with their parents. Soon they met up everyday and were less surly with their parents and shattered the illusion that they were unhappy on board. This pleased both parents as they could concentrate on their own pleasures.
For Honey and Sunny they did everything together from the pool to the Pizza bar even to the teens nightclub named “The Dragons Lair” where older people were not allowed. They found out that Sue lived in Queensland and Bill lived in Victoria. They both said together “That’s like living on a different planet!” and laughed themselves silly.
On her birthday Honey was given a Pandora bracelet with six beads on. Sonny noticed it and said “My Mum has one of those, is it new?” and Honey confessed to it being her birthday. Later that day Sunny presented Honey with a box of chocolates and a card. Honey was delighted, gave Sunny a peck on the cheek and said “I’ll take them back to our room; I’ll meet you at the pool.”
The worst days were when there were day excursions when in port. They had to go with their parents to the shops in the boring towns or visit caves full of bats or ride on cable cars to see their cruise ship so far off in the distance. At Christchurch in New Zealand they were lucky as Sunny's parents didn’t want to go on the punts on the Avon River and he managed to get to the boathouse just as Honey and her parents arrived. Sonny waved and Honey insisted that she go on the next punt with him and her parents agreed, probably fed up with Honey’s long face.
Sunny was now in love. He attached himself like glue to Honey and even ventured to hold her hand when they were together, which she didn’t mind at all. At the “Dragon’s Lair” they would jig around to the music and with the flashing lights would see each other in a completely different way. Honey felt safe with Sunny and didn’t want the cruise to end. While they sat out one dance at the “Lair” Sonny held her hand and “Honey” turned and let him kiss her on the lips. It was but a short tentative awkward kiss but for them it meant everything. Honey cried with pleasure that night she was in love too.
The liner docked in Sydney on a Tuesday. In the disembarkation Honey lost her ID tag, not that that mattered now. She didn’t need it anymore. Sunny left the ship a little later and picked up Honey’s tag in the corridor. He stuffed it in his carry on bag and tried to see if she was just ahead of them. She wasn’t.